Home News 14-year veteran officer charged for beating a prisoner

14-year veteran officer charged for beating a prisoner

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Susan Smiley
Morning Sun, Mount Pleasant, Mich
(TNS)

A 14-year veteran Warren police officer has been charged with assault and public officer willful neglect of duty after surveillance video from the city jail showed the law enforcer beating a prisoner in the fingerprint processing room on June 13.

The 48-year-old officer, Matthew James Rodriguez, was arraigned in 37th District Court on June 20. A personal bond was set at $5,000 by Judge John Chmura. He is currently on unpaid leave while the matter is investigated.

“In accordance with collective bargaining and due process requirements, the officer has an employment hearing later this week to determine the future of his employment,” said Dwyer. “The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending that hearing.”

Dwyer said the employment hearing is scheduled for Friday, June 23.

According to Warren police, the victim is a 19-year-old Black male who was arrested at 4:53 a.m. June 13 on charges of carjacking and felony firearm and brought to the jail for processing which was completed at 6:03 a.m. Rodriguez takes custody of the prisoner in the fingerprinting room and at 6:08 is seen punching him the first time.

A video of the incident, which was shown during a June 20 press conference in Dwyer’s office, shows Rodriguez strike the prisoner, then take him to the ground. Once on the ground, the officer delivers additional punches and slams the prisoner’s head into the floor.

“This officer’s actions are not at all justified,” said Dwyer. “His actions are not consistent with our training, our policies or the standards of professionalism that we hold ourselves to.

“What is consistent with our training and policies is the actions of the other two officers in this incident.”

According to the timeline given by Dwyer that was assembled after viewing the video, two other officers intervened six seconds after the attack. The video shows the two officers jumping in to deescalate the situation and one officer said he kept telling the officer who was beating the prisoner to stop.

The prisoner was sent to a local hospital by Warren police where it was determined he had not suffered any serious injuries.

“The prisoner did not request medical attention but the department wanted to ensure his health and well being and so we sent the prisoner to the hospital to make sure no serious injuries had occurred,” said Dwyer.

Dwyer estimates that Rodriguez outweighed the prisoner by at least 80 pounds.

Immediately after the incident, the two intervening officers informed their supervisor of the incident and within the next three hours, police administration was notified, internal affairs investigation was launched, and Rodriguez was placed on administrative leave.

“All use of force incidents are reviewed by shift supervisors and patrol administration to ensure policy compliance,” said Dwyer. “A key component of that review is watching video footage of the incident, which was done in this case.”

Dwyer said the officer who is charged was not wearing a body camera at the time of the incident, which is also a department policy violation. The two officers who intervened were wearing them.

The prisoner was transferred to the Macomb County Jail at 4:10 p.m. June 13.

Dwyer added his department did not receive a citizen complaint about the incident but that the investigation was initiated by Warren police administration.

“Nobody, not even a police officer on duty, is above the law,” said Dwyer.

Dwyer commended the two intervening officers for their actions and their quick response.

“I have nothing but respect for the two officers in this instance; what they did is by no means easy,” said Dwyer. “These officers did their duty and reported this misconduct to their supervisors because it was the right thing to do.”

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